Slaw and Order

I have never, ever liked traditional, mayo-based coleslaw. I just don’t care for it. If I am getting a meal from KFC, I will swap out an extra side of mashed potatoes. If I am at Captain D’s, I will get green beans. I do not want coleslaw.

But apparently there’s one type of slaw I do like. It’s called “pool room slaw,” and it’s served on top of hamburgers and hot dogs in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and a few places in Alabama. It was invented in a pool hall in Fayetteville.

Pool room slaw is made with mustard, not mayonnaise, and with plenty of sugar. The mustard, sugar, onions and cabbage are brought just to a boil, which I think just takes a bit of the raw cabbage flavor out (while still leaving plenty of crunch). You can find one recipe here.

I took the top bun off so you can see the slaw.

I am a little mystified that I had never even heard of pool room slaw, or the slawburgers that are topped with it, until a few days ago. Lincoln County is south of Bedford County; we share judges and state legislators. I had a childhood friend there, John Malone, and I’ve been there numerous times over the years. But I’d never known about pool room slaw.

While the Times-Gazette’s daily “Community Calendar” column focuses on local events, I do a weekly column, “Destinations & Diversions,” which focuses on fun events both inside the county and within a day-trip distance from it. I was putting that column together on Wednesday, for the Thursday paper, and I had gotten a news release about a bicycle ride in Fayetteville. I started to add it to the column and noticed a reference in it to the Slawburger Festival being held in Fayetteville the same day.

Even though I hate coleslaw, I love festivals. Usually, when I’m covering the RC Cola/Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, for example, I have to worry about getting photos back to the newspaper and writing up a story. But I thought it might be fun to go to the Slawburger festival just for my own amusement. I haven’t had many free Saturdays lately, but this week we had several of our freelancers covering the major events, and my co-worker David Melson normally supervises the production of the Sunday paper, so I wasn’t needed at the office. Even if I didn’t try a slawburger, I started thinking about going to the festival.

I made a joke about hating coleslaw in the weekend column, but soon after that, the unique nature of pool room slaw was explained to me, and I knew I had to go to the festival, and at least try it.

I was on my way to the festival this morning when Carolyn Greenwood messaged me to suggest I meet her for lunch. Carolyn is a dear friend who I’ve known since I first started attending Mountain T.O.P. events in the mid-1990s. She’s got family roots in Fayetteville and has moved back to Lincoln County after having lived in McMinnville and Alabama at different times. Carolyn has been one of the most faithful supporters of my foreign mission trips, at times setting up a direct deposit from her checking account so that she was contributing a little bit to the trip each month.

I arrived at the festival about 9:45, and just wandered around enjoying myself until Carolyn got into town about 11:30. This is the third year for the festival, and it’s terrific. There are vendors all around the square. One side of the square is blocked off with a stage at one end. The was a kid’s zone near the square. They had slawburger and slaw dog eating contests, cornhole, and other activities.

Carolyn was there with two of her grandchildren, adorable little girls whom she was pulling in a wagon. We went into Bill’s, one of two pool halls right next door to each other on the square in Fayetteville. Carolyn remembers the days when nice women wouldn’t be caught dead in the pool halls.

I had a slawburger and fries, and I liked it. It doesn’t taste anything like the gloppy coleslaw I hate; it’s sweet and tangy, and goes great on a burger with no other toppings needed. I will definitely have one again.

Pool room slaw is actually sold in some grocery stores in Fayetteville, but the way I had to get out of town to avoid the square didn’t take me past any grocery stores. The recipes I’ve seen (the one linked above and another given to me by Kay Bartley from church) probably make more than I would use in a short period of time, although Carolyn said it can be canned.

I did, however, stop and get a Moore County specialty on my way home. Instead of going home by way of U.S. 231, I went through Lynchburg (slightly more odometer miles, but about the same time-wise because there are fewer hills and curves). And I can’t go through Lynchburg without stopping at Woodard’s Market for a tub of the best pimento cheese you can buy in a store.

All in all, it was a terrific, fun trip. I spent a good three hours in Fayetteville, and still got home at a decent hour to relax a little bit.

I also, I want to point out, remembered to wear my sunscreen. As an American Cancer Society volunteer, I feel compelled to remind you that as the weather warms up and we spend more time out of doors, sunscreen is one of the best things you can do to prevent skin cancer.



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